Although it’s categorized as a purely anaerobic sport, wrestling has a huge aerobic component. It doesn’t matter how strong and powerful you are if you can’t move because you’re exhausted. You need endurance training to keep you going.
The muscles produce energy in three ways: anaerobic alactic (no oxygen and no lactic acid produced), anaerobic lactic (no oxygen and lactic acid produced), and aerobic (with oxygen).
The anaerobic alactic system, which is the fastest and most explosive, kicks into gear for only the first 20 seconds of high intensity activity. Then the anaerobic lactic system, which actually slows you down, takes over for up to two minutes of high intensity activity. Within three minutes, the aerobic system takes over.
A regular high school wrestling match consists of three two-minute periods with a one minute break between rounds for a total duration of eight minutes. With anaerobic alactic lasting such a short time, and the anaerobic lactic system slowing things down, wrestlers really need aerobic training to keep going.
Aerobic training is only one part of the puzzle. A wrestling match is nothing like a 3-mile jog. There are explosive bursts of action followed by rest, and the action resumes.
When both the aerobic and anaerobic systems are developed, a wrestler will be able to repeat explosive movements over the course of the match while minimizing fatigue.
A combination of low-intensity cardio with very short and explosive cardio will get you there.
This four-week conditioning program will help you build both your aerobic and anaerobic systems:
4-Week Wrestling Warrior Program
Tempo Runs (aerobic: Mondays and Thursdays)
Sprint 60 yards and record your time.
- Multiply by .75.
- Jog the distance back in that time.
- Rest 45 to 60 seconds after each jog.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Increase distance as you improve.
Anaerobic Alactic Sprints (Tuesdays & Fridays)
- Sprint for 5-7 seconds.
- Rest for 90-120 seconds.
- Start with 8 reps and every week increase by one.